There’s nothing better than a dramatic, last-second goal or an impossible triumph from the tenacious underdog. These narratives unfold every day on the storied courts and fields in Indiana. Players on womens and men’s basketball, football, global racing teams, youth volleyball, collegiate sports - you name it. The state boasts a thriving sports-based economy with the infrastructure and the fan base to support it.
“Sports are woven into the fabric of everything we do in Indiana,” said Jeffrey Hintz, vice president of Innovation for Indiana Sports Corp and executive director of Sports Tech HQ.
It’s why the Techstars partnership is such an ideal match.
The Techstars Sports Accelerator Powered by Indy is in its fifth class. Hintz and team ensure founders in program are connected with local organizations like the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the NCAA, parks and recreation departments and powerful sports organizations. In addition to the Indiana Sports Corp and NCAA, the Techstars Sports Accelerator founding partners include Next Level Indiana and Pacers Sports & Entertainment. The program is also supported by the Indianapolis Colts and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Strong partnerships with universities are also attractive to founders looking for a deep talent pipeline. Besides relationship capital, founders learn about incentives the Hoosier state offers.
“We connect founders from Techstars to the broader Indiana sports ecosystem. One of our main objectives is to show them why it’s a great place for them to continue their journey in sports technology,” said Hintz.
The Fan’s Place, a customer engagement app that uses fantasy sports-style contests, is based in Indianapolis and a member of the 2022 class. And these days, Hintz and his team are deep into conversations with eight companies in the current cohort of 13, hoping to lure them to eventually raise their company in Indiana. All of those conversations include providing introductions to eventual partners or customers.
Bottom line for Hintz is to provide worthwhile connections so founders succeed. “We owe it to them to provide meaningful and productive connections whether it’s office space, funding, or potential customers. We want to help them transition from being in the accelerator to having longevity in the community,” said Hintz.
Pro tips for leveraging connections for founders:
Sign up for cohort members’ newsletters and follow their social channels to stay up to date on their needs like fundraising, marketing, hiring and more.
Encourage founders to write about their experience in the program. Offer to provide data, photos or other assets for the newsletter or social media.